Video of Democratic Council Forum

Charlottesville Tomorrow has video and audio of this week’s Democratic City Council forum, which they held in conjunction with the Daily Progress. (Let’s all pause to appreciate the irony of the Progress holding a forum for candidates that they will almost certainly work very hard to avoid endorsing, what with their being Democrats.) Here’s the video:

7/23 Update: Brandon Collins has blogged his answers to the questions posted to candidates in the debate. He’s a council candidate, though not for the Democratic nomination, but he’s answering them anyway.

21 thoughts on “Video of Democratic Council Forum”

  1. Thanks Waldo,

    After listening to this you would think Brian Wheeler was the candidate. I think it was a lousy format and Mr. Wheeler’s questions sure do include a lot of editorializing. I would call this the Brian Wheeler road show instead of a City Council forum. Just glad I didn’t have to sit through this.

  2. Mayor Norris posted this comment under Waldo’s campaign finance post, I couldn’t agree more:

    DaveNorris Jul 22nd, 2011 at 10:50 pm
    “I encourage every Democratic primary voter to assess each candidate on his/her own merits. Period. Ask yourselves, which candidates are most likely to stand up for our City residents, our City assets, our City neighborhoods, our natural resources, our AAA bond rating, our low-income children and families, our ratepayers and taxpayers, our long-term economic sustainability. I’ve done that myself and have personally opted to support Dede Smith, Brevy Cannon, and Colette Blount. The theories being propagated here & elsewhere by supporters of another candidate about some nefarious “Norris machine” are more than a bit laughable and overwrought. My ‘machine’ is my iPhone, my Facebook page and my e-mail list and membership in my ‘machine’ is open to any Charlottesville resident who wants to see City Council stand strong against the pressures that threaten our City assets, our City neighborhoods, our low-income children and families, our long-term economic sustainability, etc. I know and like all of the candidates in this race and will work with whoever gets elected to keep making Charlottesville a better place. That’s the last I’ll say about all this because this election is not about anyone other than the seven Democrats and four Independents who are giving it their all and asking for your support. And when all is said and done, your vote on election day carries just as much weight as mine.”

    I think Dave Norris has been an excellent mayor and I trust his judgment far more than the other posters on this blog. Besides, if Galvin/Beyer/Huja or any two of this 3some are elected we will have a Mayor Huja or a Mayor Szakos – that thought is scary, given the performance of those 2 on Council. Szakos spends time scolding citizens who come to voice their opinion ( and only those she disagrees with) and Huja comes unprepared and hardly enters into the discussion.
    This has been my observation from watching most meetings on TV.

  3. Collette Blount’s answer regarding affordable housing (around 54:00) sure was a humdinger!! The end was almost Miss Teen South Carolina worthy….

  4. I think Brian Wheeler does a fine job with CT and did a fine job on the debate. Now, it seems because he reports things that the anti-dam people don’t like, there looks like a move across blogs to accuse him of being biased and captured by special interest. Hooey. That just looks like true believers or ideologues attacking him because they don’t like seeing the fair and unbiased truth he publishes with which they don’t agree.

    I voted for Dave Norris and have supported his efforts to do many wonderful things in Cville. I would probably vote for him again but I don’t support his choice to support candidates in this election. I don’t support a ticket the purpose of which is to win seats to overturn the water supply decision already made while other issues languish. I don’t support the group he supports in this election because they don’t come off as some random group, look at their behavior at the first debate. I want independent councilors voting their conscience independently.

    Huja and Szakos have done a fine job supporting the interests of all Citizens in Cville in my opinion. Look at the work Szakos has been doing on the Promise Neighborhood. But she isn’t running. At this point in my view, Huja has solid, proven experience compared to many of the other candidates and he will vote his conscience. Plus he’s not on a ticket of any sort. He wasn’t tossing up softball questions to other candidates. Neither was Galvin, Byer, or Halfaday.

    We need a Council made up of strong independent candidates, not one in which there is a group of like-minded people voting on a bloc all the time.

  5. Mayor Norris is endorsing these candidates for many reasons. Did you read what he wrote “which candidates are most likely to stand up for our City residents, our City assets, our City neighborhoods, our natural resources, our AAA bond rating, our low-income children and families, our ratepayers and taxpayers, our long-term economic sustainability. ”

    I think it’s clear if you listen to the forum that your three choices support county interests/growth interests and first, and the others, city interests first. That is the main difference not one issue.

    We have seen that on the present council when it comes to city resources and assets Norris and Edwards align themselves with city residents and the others are for the development/growth lobby favoring higher density in neighborhoods and sacrificing our parks to county growth. The one exception is Huja who voted against the higher density development in Fifeville, but all indications are Galvin ( who aligns herself already closely with Szakos) and Beyer would have supported it.

  6. I am looking for councilors who will do their homework and not just accept what staff is telling them. That is why I have been impressed with Mayor Norris and Ms. Edwards, who listen to staff and citizens, then form their own opinion after careful consideration. That takes a great deal of work and intelligence, because the issues facing the city are often complex.

    It is well known that I believe the facts support a dredge first approach for our water supply, but that issue will soon be resolved and other difficult issues will arise. Before getting involved with protecting our water infrastructure, I served for many years as president of Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association and then on the City Planning Commission.

    I have always, and continue to believe, that the greatest appeal we have as a city is our neighborhoods. We need to protect their character so that they continue to be a place where people want to settle down, and form the fabric of a well cared for place. And we need to keep the City an affordable place to live, to make it possible for all income levels to be able to live in our neighborhoods. That is one reason I am currently fighting the earthen dam/pipeline plan. The facts I have seen indicate it is far better for city residents, to maintain and protect the water infrastructure and park land at Ragged Mt. Natural Area, that we already own, and spend our money dredging our largest reservoir at South Fork, so it continues to be our main source of water supply. I respectfully disagree with some groups that interpret the facts differently.

    We need to elect councilors who can stand up to the pressures we are now facing. Individuals that will not allow the natural environment to be sacrificed to the built environment, and who will not allow our neighborhoods to become cut throughs for county traffic.

    For these reasons, and the others Mayor Norris has included in his post, I am supporting Colette Blount, Brevy Canon, and Dede Smith in the Democratic Primary on August 20th.

    Please join me in nominating these candidates to help protect our City for all our residents.

  7. A poster named Ableboy at the Hook responded to my post reminding me that currently Charlottesville is unaffordable for many. He is correct and we need to do what we can to lower fees not raise them.

  8. Betty. Do you think you could clarify for me the connection between “Keeping (or making) the city an affordable place to live, to make it possible for all income levels to be able to live in our neighborhoods” and fighting the earthen dam?

    Without going into the rather confusing back and forth about the price of dam vs. dredge, I’m having a hard time believing that a pressing issue for our low-income citizens is keeping very very cheap access to clean drinking water from becoming merely very cheap access. Is there useful/accurate data which illustrates the actual impact on water prices if the entire cost of the (whichever one happens) project is passed on to consumers?

    I find it is often the obsession with single-issues and attempts to paint them as all-encompassing issues that turns folks off from C’ville politics (and politics in general).

  9. I attended the forum and listened carefully. My vote goes wholeheartedly to Kathy Galvin. I am impressed by her intelligence, her willingness to consider issues at the level of detail and then come up with her own opinion of what is in our city’s best interests. She has taken seriously her role on the school board and works incredibly hard. Kathy Galvin has the knowledge and toughness to make a great city council member.

    I agree with Nalle’s comment that obsession with single-issues is a real turnoff; I left the debate discouraged at some of the candidates who kept their focus very narrow–missing the opportunity to communicate a broader agenda. I believe that Kathy Galvin has a fresh, innovative vision for Charlottesville and support her for city council.

  10. @Nalle I have been told by someone in the city finance dept. that even now there are home owners who can’t pay their water/sewer bills, and he has said that number is rising. He is surprised how many working people are coming to him for help. Any increase in our water and sewer bills will hurt these people, and it is my belief that dredging is the less costly approach to our water needs, given the facts I have seen. ( the more you spend- the more you borrow, the higher the rates you need to charge to pay for the new infrastructure.) Our water use is falling, so why are we being charged more now ?

    If you overbuild and the water use keeps falling RWSA will have to keep increasing rates to cover the difference, they already take 25% of every dollar and have done so for the last decade. It is the lower income folks who can’t afford the low flow fixtures ( toilets, shower, washing machines ect.) and will pay more for the use of water.

    Ragged Mt. Natural Area is a beautiful wilderness experience close in to the City and owned by the City that we will lose under the dam/pipeline plan. Dredging, on the other hand will help save the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, which is not only our largest water supply, but a recreational spot for city and county residents. The importance of the Rivanna Reservoir and River, for City residents, was well portrayed in the article at the Hook, by former City Councilor Kendra Hamilton, who has now denounced the dam/pipeline plan.

    Why would we destroy this when there is a better and less costly alternative ?

    I agree we should not nominate candidates on one issue, but to say we should just move on ( as some candidates have done), when there is new information and the decision has not been made ( a major modification and public comment for the permit is now required by the state ) – is not what I consider fact based decision making, and shows a lack of will to do the hard work of waiting for the public hearing, listening to citizens, considering the information, and then making a decision
    based on the best available factual information.

    This is the process I am looking for in those I’d like to see on council, not just on this issue, but the many complex decisions that councilors need to make.

  11. I like seeing more folks using their real names here, as is required at Charlottesville Tomorrow’s site. (Often it feels like a Halloween party, where a few of us have forgotten to wear our monster costumes:-)

    For me, the bottom-line criteria for a city council candidate is character and integrity. We don’t know what “new information” may appear on any of a range of issues that will come before council in the next four years. We need to elect city councilors who are honest, smart, flexible in thought, able to listens–in short, good politicians.

    This is where Dede Smith fails. She does not consider herself a politician; in fact she really dislikes the label. (She told me this when she asked me to coffee several weeks ago.) A good politician is a public servant. She (or he) doesn’t arrive with all the answers. This is Dede Smith’s biggest problem–the zealot’s flaw. We saw it when she served on the school board (she believed the overriding problem in our school division was institutional racism) and we see it now in the water issue (she has the answer, what Mr. Huja rightly termed “the Dede Smith plan”). If you didn’t follow Dede Smith four years ago, you’d be wise to do some homework before casting your vote for her. She has never listened well to anyone who doesn’t agree with her. She doesn’t collaborate. (I ask again: if none of the school board members who served with you stand up for your city council candidacy, doesn’t it speak volumes about your ability collaborate?) Being on the city council requires collaboration and integrity. It requires being an effective politician. Dede Smith is an activist–too polarizing a figure to serve well on council. She proved this during six years on the school board. She actually told me that the policies enacted by the failed superintendent Scottie Griffin are what have made the Charlottesville City Schools a better division today–but then couldn’t name a single policy. Really? (After five years, doesn’t that credit go to Rosa Atkins and her team of principals and teachers?)

  12. I can’t speak to the past school board history Karl, and I do appreciate knowing who I am speaking to, but I have often disagreed with Dede on issues ( not just water ) and she has always listened. Working closely on the water issue I have found her an amazingly thorough fact finder and have observed her excellent ability to work with a group that often has divergent opinions. Many of my friends worked with her in her role as educational director at Ivy Creek and as a teacher of master naturalists, and I have heard nothing but the highest praise.

    I know the Scottie Griffin years were difficult, and I am sorry that whatever happened clearly caused you a great deal of pain. But I hope this will not be the only issue you use to judge Ms. Smith.

  13. There seems to be group of candidates (Huja, Galvin) that would like to see Charlottesville turn into another Reston, VA with 12 story buildings lining West Main and Preston. Do people really want to relocate to Cville and live in appartments? If that was the case, they would just stay in NYC and Boston. Some folks work off of the premise of what we should want instead of what we actually want.

  14. I am not judging Dede Smith on the issue of Scottie Griffin, but rather, on her failed leadership during that year. Because of her failed leadership, the situation went from bad to worse–not just for me (a city school parent), but for principals, teachers, and students in the division.

  15. @Betty. I find it hard to believe that the reason members of our community are having a hard time paying the water bill has anything to do with the water bill itself. Looking at the city water rates (varies on season) and average household consumption (EPA estimates, 12000 gallons a month) I get a monthly bill of $61 to $80 (depending on season). If rates were to go up by a massive 50% it would be (around $26-$35) per month. That IS a lot of money if you are living month to month but its nothing compared to the effect of a 10% rise on rents (which is occurring right now) and pales in comparison to losing ones job.

    Securing clean water for 50 years SHOULD be expensive, its incredibly important. I for one would much rather have clean drinking water secured vs. 5-10 minutes cut off of my trip up 29N.

    Returning to this original thread on our city councilors, many differences that matter to me have been hidden by the media (and local citizens) focus on a few select issues. I’ve personally been impressed with Paul Beyer, even though I originally had serious reservations about his background as a developer. He has been reaching out to a fairly broad range of people to get feedback and insight into opinions on the city. He’s young and I have hope that he will bring a fresh perspective as well as an ability connect and understand the generation of C’ville citizens (of which I belong) who are going to be starting new businesses, buying and improving houses and raising children.

    I’m impressed with other individuals who are running, but typically for their ability to listen, think and clearly express unique opinions. I’m less interested in trying to grossly generalize individuals (such as pro city vs. pro county) based upon their stance on a single issue.

  16. “Securing clean water for 50 years SHOULD be expensive, its incredibly important.” Why, when it could be done cheaper SHOULD anything be expensive?

    Also, why wouldn’t someone be seriously impacted by an additional $25-35 monthly expense if that person has just suffered a rent increase and lost a source of income? Why not avoid increasing rates by that amount if possible? There is also the still unknown (or at least not disclosed) but inevitable additional rate increases due to the costs of building and operating an uphill pipeline. In sensible places they generate electricity by taking advantage of the fact that water flows downhill rather than generating electricity (nuclear, coal) for the purpose of moving water uphill.

  17. @the boss of me

    I used the $/month figures to indicate that a massively worse case scenario (a50% rate increase, which is not at all on the table) would have a much lower impact then any of the other much more important factors influencing low-income communities. I only wrote this out of frustration that the the proponents of dredging constantly bring up the benefit to the low-income community of dredging. I think it is at best a minor point but used often because it plays well for c’ville residents.

    I don’t think that either sides of the issue have presented a serious financial breakdown of the two plans. Debt is incredibly cheap right now (especially if VA loses its AAA rating), which is not a reason to spend but certainly a consideration to if spending is necessary. At the same time, spending out of time (continued dredging) has its fiscal benefits. Again, I don’t have the information to make a proper decision on this (admittedly I haven’t made a huge effort to gain that information) but I am frustrated by the rhetoric which turns important political dialog about the future of our community into hyperbole about a single issue.

  18. You’re absolutely correct, Nalle. It’s become an emotional issue for the opponents to the plan. What’s more, they’ve ostensibly lost on this issue.

    So they’re employing more and more extreme measures in opposition (such as running a one-issue ticket) and more and more hyperbole. You can’t discuss the issue reasonably anymore because the issue is now, “do you want poor people to lose their homes?!?!” Instead of, “do you support an earthen or concrete dam?”

    It’s turning off a number of people and making me want to ignore the issue. Build the darn dam and be done with it; I’m sick of listening to these disingenuous whiners.

  19. @city resident– this is precisely why I get so annoyed when some people claim that a few of the candidates have only one issue in mind. Or claim that Dave Norris is an evil puppetmaster trying to drive the outcome on a single issue because he’s seeking revenge. What a load of hooey. NONE of the candidates are one-issue folks. Paul Beyer may be pro-dam, but he’s many other things as well. Dede Smith may be pro-dredge, but she’s many other things as well.

    Repeating the one-issue accusation ad nauseum does all of the candidates a disservice, as it diminishes their entire message, and assumes that the voters are too dim to know the difference. Let the voters decide what issues are important to them, and stop telling them that they shouldn’t be allowed to hear opposing views on issues. The citizens don’t need schoolmarm-style lectures from candidates that they just need to “move on” regarding various issues, be it the homeless, water, school funding, or whatever. Thanks!

    Since I keep seeing the one-issue accusation directed against only certain candidates, I have to wonder if it’s coming from one particular camp. It’s best to remember that in politics, that train can run both ways.

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